The pressure was on for Atlético Madrid, still on the rebound from mounting COVID-19 cases and a late Facundo Ferreyra equalizer on Monday. After going ahead in the second half through Marcos Llorente, substitute Yangel Herrera popped up with a tying goal from a set piece before Ángel Correa won it with 15 minutes to go.
Here are some key figures from the rojiblancos’ bounce-back victory, which takes them eight points clear atop LaLiga:
Correa’s lifetime goal tally against Granada. He has scored in each of Atlético’s past three meetings with the Andalusian side — and each goal has gone on to be the winner.
After a dip in form, Correa has roared back to life since he scored against Sevilla on Jan. 12. The Argentine has scored thrice and set up another goal over the past six games, and he had to play all 180 minutes this week after João Félix — his primary competition for those minutes — tested positive for COVID.
Correa did a bit of everything in the second half, once the game really opened up. He nearly set up Luis Suárez for the opener, but his attempt hit the crossbar. He completed three dribbles and made three tackles, too, never shirking defensive responsibilities as a Diego Simeone-bred supporting forward. And of course, his three-fourths shot which deflected off Jesús Vallejo’s planted foot found its way past Rui Silva to deliver Atlético all three points.
The run of consecutive games in which Atlético have conceded. Though this was a better defensive performance than we saw from the win over Cádiz or the draw against Celta, Yangel Herrera’s 66th-minute equalizer was Granada’s only shot on target and the goal was wholly avoidable.
Suárez could only head a corner straight into the air, and Yannick Carrasco failed to clear it when it came down. The ball landed at substitute Herrera’s feet, and though Marcos Llorente slid over to try to block it, the shot took a substantial deflection past Oblak.
Atlético have not gone six in a row without failing to keep a clean sheet since 2011, and the seven goals conceded over the past five games have come from chances totaling 4.93 xG, per Understat. That indicates a little variance at work. Atleti have been scoring enough to compensate for this relative leakiness, and defending with the ball will become easier once Félix and/or Thomas Lemar return from isolation.
Marcos Llorente’s goal contribution in LaLiga this season. He has scored seven times, and is the league’s top assists-provider with seven helpers — including the cutback on Correa’s winner.
His goal, though...woof. From his favorite area on the pitch — the edge of the 18-yard box — Llorente received Koke’s pass, turned it onto his left foot, and stuck the shot low, in between Rui Silva and his near post. Couldn’t have placed it better.
The number of substitutions Simeone made in two games this week.
Geoffrey Kondogbia was the sole sacrifice on Saturday, and his exit saw Atlético immediately apply greater pressure to Granada’s shaky defense. Kondogbia played well again — he completed 87 percent of his passes and created three chances in the first 45 minutes alone — but the ball wasn’t moving quickly enough with him on the pitch. Šime Vrsaljko’s entry cracked open the game at both ends, and he even nabbed the pre-assist on Correa’s goal.
Simeone has to be hoping for good news regarding Félix and Moussa Dembélé in the next couple days, as getting by with two out of a possible 10 substitutions is an unsustainable strategy and could burn out his players.
GRA XI Rui Silva; Foulquier (Quina 79’), Duarte, Germán Sánchez, Vallejo, Neva; Montoro (Gonalons 69’), Eteki (Herrera 58’), Machís (Soro 79’), Kenedy (Puertas 69’); Molina
Goal Herrera 66’
ATM XI Oblak; Savić, Felipe, Hermoso; Koke, Kondogbia (Vrsaljko 46’), Saúl, Llorente, Carrasco; Correa, Suárez
Goals Llorente 63’ Correa 75’